Death penalty for high-level drug traffickers ‘possible’ under new Senate

Camille Elemia
Death penalty for high-level drug traffickers ‘possible’ under new Senate
'It's a possibility now because nadagdag nga 'yung pro-death penalty [senators],' says Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – With the entry of new senators, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the restoration of death penalty for high-level drug trafficking is now “possible.”

“It’s a possibility now because nadagdag nga ‘yung (we have additional) pro-death penalty [senators],” Sotto said during a press conference on Thursday, May 16.

Nine of the 12 senatorial candidates in the winning circle based on a partial, unofficial tally are allied with President Rodrigo Duterte. Like Duterte, the following are in favor of the reimposition of the death penalty: 

  1. Cynthia Villar
  2. Imee Marcos
  3. Aquilino Pimentel III
  4. Juan Edgardo Angara
  5. Pia Cayetano
  6. Bong Revilla
  7. Bong Go
  8. Ronald dela Rosa
  9. Francis Tolentino

Lito Lapid, who ran under the Nationalist People’s Coalition, also backs the reimposition of capital punishment. Senators Grace Poe and Nancy Binay are against it.

“Pero sino bomoto sa kanila? ‘Yung mga tao. ‘Di ba alam nila ‘yung mga pro-death at hindi (But who voted for them? The people.  Didn’t they know who among the candidates are in favor and against the death penalty)?” Sotto said.

Sotto, however, clarified it would not be a Senate priority. So far, he said only Senator Manny Pacquiao listed the reimposition of the death penalty as his pet bill.

“It’s possible, but not because it’s a priority, it has a good chance of passing,” Sotto said.

He clarified that while passing the measure under the new Senate was possible, he could not say, for now, whether  “it would be easier” to pass it.

Sotto said most senators are in favor of reimposing the death penalty law but only for high-level drug trafficking. Others would oppose the measure if it would be expanded to cover other crimes.

“I don’t think we can get [the needed] 13 votes. Oras na haluan ng iba na pwedeng punishable by reclusion perpetua, eh may dalawa o 3 akong alam na aatras eh. ‘Di na susuporta, you’ll never get the 13 (The moment we add crimes that could be punishable by reclusion perpetua, I know two or 3 senators who would withdraw support. You’ll never get the 13 votes),” he said.

The incumbent senators of the 17th Congress already rejected the passage of the bill, while the House of Representatives passed it on third and final reading. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com